Irish woman wins photography award using off-the-shelf camera

Jackie Campbell takes honours in British Society of Underwater Photographers competition


It has emerged that an Irish woman who won a prestigious underwater photography competition was the first to do so using a compact camera.

Jackie Campbell won first prize at the British Society of Underwater Photographers open portfolio competition for a selection of photographs from the Red Sea and UK.

But what makes the win particularly remarkable is Ms Campbell captured the striking images with the type of off-the-shelf camera more commonly associated with holiday snaps. In the 30-year history of the award, no entrant has won using such a camera.

“It’s a Canon S90,” said Ms Campbell. “It wouldn’t even be the latest model and would retail for about a couple of hundred quid.” A professional SLR camera costs at least €1,000.

As a “keen amateur” who practises wildlife photography and scuba diving in her time off from managing a clothes shop in Dublin, cost was a big factor in deciding to go with a compact.

Sometimes, she admitted, using the cheaper camera can be frustrating but “in some cases it’s technique and composition that has more to do with [a photograph] than what camera took the image”.

She never expected to win the underwater award so when the announcement came in December it was a “very, very pleasant surprise”. In the past few days it emerged no one else had ever won using a compact.

A self-described “complete wimp” when it comes to the cold, Ms Campbell said she prefers to dive in warmer countries. But with a busy work life, opportunities to travel abroad are becoming ever scarcer.

Which is why, she said, she’s going to have to learn to put up with the cold at home and start diving here.